One thing I’d prefer not to get in the habit of each week: flying over my handlebars. As much fun as it sounds, what with the flying part and everything, it’s actually much more painful in the long run. The problem may be that I wasn’t in the air long enough to become distracted, thereby forgetting that I was flying, missing the ground completely, and continuing to stay airborne (props if you get the reference). As it turns out, I was very aware of my impending doom, and had little time–about .5sec–to think of anything else.
With August finally bringing some dry weather, I decided to head out to Rock Bridge State Park for a long ride after work. I had the whole ride mapped out: basically, taking the SMSG race course, but veering off at the top of Sinkhole trail, which I would take counter-clockwise in a complete loop back to the Boy Scout connector. Then, at the intersection of Spring Brook and the White Connector, I’d hang a right (instead of going straight), take the cliff–side section down to the parking lot, head over Highway 163, and loop around the extended section of High Ridge Trail, in a sort of figure eight. Back over the highway, I’d head up the nearly impossible rock garden climb section of Spring Brook, hop back on the White Connector, and finish the race course.
If you’re not familiar with Sinkhole trail, coming counter-clockwise from the top is some of the cleanest singletrack in the entire park. It’s slightly wider than everywhere else, and since it’s up high, it’s usually dry. It’s also slightly downhill most of the way–eventually leading to a steeper downhill section before a sharp left turn–and just windy enough to be fun, but not so much so that you have to brake for the turns. After the sharp left-hander, you’re no longer on dirt. The trail turns into an old, dried-out creek bed/rock garden, again on a slight downhill slope. It’s made of larger, chunky rocks, most of which move as you roll over them, with larger, flat rocks firmly attached to the ground, sometimes covered in moss, and usually slippery.
This section would be so much better on a dual-suspension bike, but you can make do with a hardtail, so long as you have some low-PSI, high-volume tires, like my Nevegals. The trail eventually gets really chunky, right as it also heads to the right and goes across a small ditch, though that ditch, like many others in the park, seems to be getting deeper as time goes on. Nothing too tricky so long as you carry some speed, but you have to stay alert. It then swings left again, and continues on for a short distance, before you come to a very unnatural rock formation: from back in the days when this was a working rock quarry, there’s a slab of concrete that juts out from the rest of the trail. Stick to the right, and you’ll only have about a 1" drop-off, but taken on the left it now falls down about a foot or so. It used to only drop down about 6", but erosion from all the constant spring/summer rain we’ve had for the past couple years, has slowly moved away the surface of the trail.
I typically hit this slab going 10-15mph, pulling up about as much as one would for a 6" drop. Unfortunately, I was going closer to the 10mph mark, and when I pulled up for a 6" drop, I realized it was more than twice that far to the ground below. At 15mph or more, momentum would have taken care of me, but at a slower speed, my front wheel headed straight down, tossing me over the bars. My right shoulder took the brunt of the impact–and has the bruises and broken skin to prove it–but my face also made contact. Normally, that wouldn’t happen, but there was a rock about the size of a small, but thick, hard cover book, laying on what would have been its spine if, in fact, it were a book. This is what my chin made contact with. I’m not sure how, but my glasses managed to stay on my face.
What made contact with the top of my left foot, I still don’t know. I suspect it was a pedal, as my bike came slamming down on top of me, but I really have no idea. Through my shoe, the impact broke my skin, and my foot immediately swelled. It’s thankfully not broken, but it hurts like hell. My right hand also took the impact from the rocky trail surface, but my gloves turned what could have been a trashed hand into merely a bruised palm. It’s almost back to perfect now, so I guess it’s the least of my injuries.
At that point, I did what anyone would do: I got up and made sure my bike was okay. After I saw that it was completely unfazed by the whole thing (lucky bastard), I checked over myself. I could move everything–even my jaw, though it hurt quite a bit–and I still had all my teeth, so I got back on my bike and slowly made my way to the parking lot, about a half-mile down. The ride was over, but I needed to get back to my car at the other parking lot a mile away, and up a huge hill on Highway 163. I hit the remote lock-out on my fork, shifted to a pansy gear, and hoped I wouldn’t get hit by a car on the narrow, 2-lane road.
Well, it’s now the day after, and I’m doing better. My hand is good to go, and I barely notice some scratches on my back. My shoulder looks like someone set off a small grenade on it, and it’s sore when I move it around, but it should be fine by Monday or Tuesday. The skin will probably take a week or two to heal. My chin is bruised and hurts like a mofo, but as long as I can move it enough to whine about my injuries and stuff food in my mouth, I think I’ll be alright. The biggest obstacle is walking, since my foot’s still swollen and in quite a bit of pain. The swelling hasn’t gone down, but since my foot is pasty-white-boy color, and not you-just-broke-your-foot color, I’m going to leave it be for a few days and baby it.
I think I’ll stick to my road bike for a couple weeks, but once I feel all better again, Rock Bridge and I are going to have another show-down.